You know how airlines movies are never a reliable chronological landmark when you try to recollect a memory? I think I may have been on a plane, going to the States when I saw Janet Jackson play this innocent, sweet, and unlucky-in-love-type love interest. It was pre-September 11th, the summer of, and we sort of got stuck in the States that year. Wait, they had another movie on. With Cuba Gooding Jr. trying to swindle a church out of their athletic program account. You see my point?
No, it was at the house where I saw the Janet Jackson scene and I remember thinking to myself what laughable charade she or her agent was putting us on by presenting this pious, demure, girl-next-door–an idealized version of herself, essentially. So I brought up the ridiculousness of it to our African-American connection in one of the many family functions we had that year. Now the year was 2001. Looking at her rather limited filmography by then, it would mean the movie had to have been the Nutty Professor II. I told the African-American family patriarch (I thought those were a myth) how contrived a move it was for her to play the born-again Christian card to reinvent herself at a possibly stagnant or critical juncture of her career. Get this, I was only 16. He argued how Janet is a good, sweet girl who, believe it or not, for all we know may well be playing herself. Fast forward to a Super Bowl party three years later, I went outside for a halftime smoke and missed the sports event of the year. You guessed it. The wardrobe malfunction.
Now what I’m trying to juxtapose all this against is my recent viewing of Beyoncé’s music video Partition and my overall familiarity with her, um, artistry shall we call it. I’m not a follower of contemporary pop. On occasion I do get familiar with it being a byproduct of chasing tail in a club, something that doesn’t happen often now with the days of jettisoning my ass between America and the Middle East for extended periods on end behind me. And I don’t do clubs at my age, and certainly not in the Middle East. But over the years I’ve kept my stance on pop culture unchanged, possibly fixed ever more, much like Beyoncé’s needle on the pop relevance meter surely is today. Pop is trash. But from Destiny’s Child to solo act to the power couple she’s now one half of, Beyoncé has done her numbers by the numbers, it seems, in a career of carefully calculated moves. I’m not saying that her Janet Jackson moment is imminent. By her rather wholesome standard, it is conceivable that moment had already occurred. You know? Perhaps the worst is past her. Regardless.
First of all, Beyoncé sucks. To my way of thinking, she does. I do recognize her talent. She’s a great performer on stage and is known for the ability of animorphing limited spinal movement into a flexible serpentine. I don’t care much for her voice and think Rihanna and Katy Perry, lesser divas across the board according to any litmus test you want to administer, produced better club bangers than Beyoncé. What is Beyoncé, a feminists’ voice? She did have that Put a Ring On It. Nice idea. Runs opposite of the latest music videos she made while, um… married!? Bear with me. The music video is a peculiar vehicle for spreading information, conveying messages, cultivating and upholding a persona, and what have you. It has the ability to accomplish all of the above simultaneously. And as someone who appreciates filmmaking (cinematography, photography, editing), I tend to view see music videos and ads as short films also. The spermatozoa of films if you will. So here it is. My rant-slash-review, or… rantview.
How a song named Partition indulges in gratuitous showcase of strip club routines to a camera is a fallacy beyond logic. I thought cameras aren’t allowed. And how the lyrics reinforce the context and then some (“Monica Lewinsky’ed on my gown”?) suggests a peculiar couple, indeed. Let us behold the spectacle. We’re being let in on the conjugal secret of the most powerful bedroom in show business, y’all!
Partition begins at this Victorian (I can’t tell Edwardian from Colonial, here, I just put that shit to be wordy) manor replete with post-renaissance paraphernalia foreign to our heritage as people of color as well as theirs, i.e. Jay and Bey. The perfect status symbols to announce your new arrival to the Big Time. Now, Jay-Z also appears, but his is a ‘non-speaking part.’ The manor scenes bookend the music video itself, or Beyoncé’s daydream while having breakfast with an unattentive hubby and is clearly a release of repressed fantasy. Manners are dropped as we depart the manor because what follows next is a frenzy decent into unhinged exhibition from the literal and loftier tableside manners alluded to during breakfast.
Presumably in a room upstairs Beyoncé is decked in a lavish ornamentation of jewels, a fake-diamond-laden lingerie outfit reminiscent of Andrew Blake’s Hidden Obsessions, the classiest porn film of all time. Not that I scour and review those in some look-under-every-rock kind of way, but it happens to be the first and best porno I’ve ever had the privilege to glean exploratory inquisitiveness from. The vignettes are essentially the actors making love up until the customary unloading of the juice into the female’s mouth coda. Watch it.
Outside, before Beyoncé’s character—unless they’re playing themselves, in which case God help Blue Ivy—is picked up, she’s standing on the gravel driveway, face obscured by shade with her figure silhouetted in the headlights. Do you know how when the bikini like in a female garment doesn’t fall on the fold formed by the junction of the thigh and groin creating an exposed patch of flesh? Here, Beyoncé’s meaty parts glisten in a beckoning call for the mystery chauffeured passenger except it’s no mystery whom that passenger is . The lyrics allude to a club party they may be running late for because, don’t ask me, who the fuck listens to the words when a siren looks poised to show more skin, man!?
[Editor’s Note: the meaty part of the groin does not in fact show, the flurry of innuendo and imagery conjured it into existence however. To me at least. Damn you, Andrew Blake!].
Inside the car a little groping does occur as well as that surely viral Monica Lewinsky line.
He Monica Lewinskyed on my blouse.
Like, LOL, we get the reference, he jizzed on your clothes before you got to your destination but more accurately it should have been Bill Clintoned on the blouse. Whatevs. No sign of the partition yet. They do, however, arrive at their destination in the next shot. The Bentley is shown to stop, twice. The next location, Bey appears to be emerging from under water but I think it’s some kind of sleek surfaced platform. A dancing platform. Yay! I like her get up here. Cleopatra-like. She’s got one of them wavey-brimmed hats. It’s wave-hat-like only in shape, not function. I doubt she wears a weave and extensions underneath because it’s pressed so snuggly on her head there aren’t any obvious non-uniform bulges forming. The weave-wave-hat apparatus looks like a net with some sort of knot or ornament where the threads cross. But the real eye catcher is what she’s wearing from the neck down. Thongy and stringy lingerie with essentially three strings running across the butt diagonally and with the center string serving as the thong. Mmmmm mmm! I can eat that ass all day, Ms Knowles! The dancing in this part is seductive and very artfully rendered. Be squirms and flails her arms in wavelike motions, and arches her back, showing how it can move with the mechanism certain legless reptilians are known for.
Oh, also there was a scene I forgot to mention where she wears something out of Lady Gaga’s wardrobe. I think she dances to Jay atop a dresser. I don’t know the name of the furnishing. Finally we are taken to their final destination, and the one most resembling a strip club. Maybe that’s the one they kept referring to repeatedly. There the stage lights cast leopard spots on the subject on display to suggest a feline-like agility. There is not one, but several vertical bars between Bey and the audience. It’s only Jay in the crowd by the way but he’s amassed that big a presence, I guess it nullfies a roomful of other people’s existence out of the frame. It’s what he keeps saying on his records at least. He’s so larger than life he’s the accumulation of many. Oh, the bars. Velvet ropes you see at a valet or bank lines except strung from ceiling to floor. Obviously not sturdy enough to swing or spin on. If they’re not meant to be used as poles then… they resemble dicks? I know because Beyoncé kept jamming her butt into one, like into her crack. It had to imply that. Then we realize the whole thing was dreamt up.
Defenders of the imagery will generally fall into two camps; this is a married couple and what they do is perfectly natural, so big deal if any of it shown for the world to view, and; as a new mother the artist is simply earnest in reconnecting with her seemingly unscathed and otherworldly-as-ever sexuality. Look, man. We’re all sexual beings. Until the day we die. We may lose interest or drive but a nice rack is a nice rack at twenty, forty, or eighty years of age (the beholder, not the rack). I get that. As an adolescent, permanent hardons and hormones revving, I used to look at socially awkward people and their kids, and wonder to myself, I can’t imagine them fucking but I guess they had to to have had their kid. Even the squares are sexual beings.
Take the comparison of athletes versus celebrities. Now, I understand athletes need to stay aware of what is said about them in the press in order to get the most value out of their brand come negotiation time. The same can be said to apply to celebrities, except to a lesser extent. Perhaps considering athletes are tied to relatively longer, binding deals while celebs get contracts, sometimes concurrent ones. Perhaps because only athletes risk career ending injury at any moment. And perhaps for celebs, all the relevant writing is conspicuously on the wall in the form of facial wrinkles. So fuck all that noise about fishing for positive reinforcement in the C-section of YouTube, okay? The decline of a celeb is not as sudden as that of an athlete to justify constantly monitoring feedback being said about the commodity. And frankly, it is precisely because now she’s a mummy why such video should have been made way before if ever. George Carlin said it best, if your kid needs a role model and you ain’t it, you’re both fucked.
And speaking of the writing on the wall, has Beyoncé ever looked so old? It was so harrowing to behold. Her body surely didn’t. Nice rack, matter of fact, I never knew black women naturally developed sizable breasts. Maybe the postpartum hormones are at play. It would appear that God bestowed upon you some serious estrogen the majority of its quota gets used up around the buttocks area leaving very little for the breasts but that’s part of the appeal. She looked ugly and beautiful at the same time. I spoke of the decline being somewhat gradual for a celeb banking on looks a great deal in their craft. Maybe the sudden awareness of a not so sudden change prompted this change of artistic direction. Hmmm what happened to black people never showing their age? So neck down ,she’s aged like some exclusive vintage. And of age, is that the trend these days? The older they get the more provocative they behave?
As for the first camp argument, doing what couples do, did I say that is was all there for the whole world to see? Because, fuck me if I’m wrong, Beyoncé, but I could swear I saw hints of Pretty Woman in the last frame. I want to be wrong for your sake. But I don’t think I am. I think they made you play a trollop. And I didn’t mean to imply that there is a correlation between PDA and the repute of a woman’s sexual record it just happens that those sentences were next to each other. #WorkFlow
No really, how can you retort against claims of a matrimonial relationship relived on screen when you believe you’re seeing evidence pointing to a spontaneous tryst with a stranger? I thought Drunk in Love was supposed to that song. I’m all for PDA and in fact not enough is shown. At the same time, too much is. So on average that means the entire planets gets to express a healthy level of it. But average means nothing when, say, it is frowned upon in one place, or worse completely discouraged. If Tom Cruise’s sofa jumping episode sat in one area (excuse the pun.. Also let’s not call it end) of the spectrum, I am not sure where claims of innocent PDA are supposed to fit. Who exactly is being affectionate with whom, here? Unless we’re talking about a guy parading his trophy wife on her own music video which would either put Tom Cruise to shame on the same scale, or warrant a new altogether.
My retort, and this not from an angry place, because this is a numbers game. The odds of landing a spouse or a partner with an astronomically attractive body are minuscule. Shit, the odds of being one are long. This whole thing is a thirst trap and. A fap trap, to the female exhibitionist’s way if thinking, and possibly an attention-seeking ploy, while a thirsty ass attempt by the male to show off a crowning jewel. I don’t buy into the idea that she’s an example for women, or recent mothers, to model their physical appearance after; her training regimen and/dirt are not public information. Again most of us aren’t that lucky. I’d venture out and say, unless you’re hideous and fat, and ailed by a repugnant personality, if you’re not neither of those you’re beautiful. All people are. The human sex drive is that potent to render just about everyone pleasing to the eye, mind, and heart, in their unique way. Evolution. It knows no cookie cutters. So tell me then, is it liberating after all? And whose really doing the objectifying? Who’s the thirsty one here?